Snickers our scarlet macaw after having flown for the first time. His expectations increased a million-fold that day.

Part 4 - How to Create a Great Parrot Lifestyle - Expectations, Reasonable vs. Unreasonable

Part 4 - How to Create a Great Parrot Lifestyle - Expectations, Reasonable vs. Unreasonable

Stress is born of expectation. Frustrated stress is born of unreasonable expectation. The stress that hurts our parrots is unreasonable expectations on our part. There is not enough room, food, flight, or toys to overcome the unreasonable expectations we put on our birds.

Unreasonable expectations make simple facts hard to understand.

  • You cannot have a happy, big, bodacious macaw and a perfectly kept HGTV home at the same time. Your floors cannot participate. The macaw will lose in that situation.
  • You cannot work 10-14 hours a day and have a happy, confident cockatoo. The cockatoo will lose in that situation.
  • You cannot travel the world on a whim, leaving your parrot behind whenever the whim takes you. Your parrot will see you as unreliable. Unreliable things in a flock create stress and anxiety.
  • You cannot live a freestyle life, with no routine or schedule, with a parrot.
  • You can’t expect a bird to understand the difference between you having a bad day versus you rejecting them.
  • You can’t expect a parrot not to need to take part in every nook and cranny of your life, because living with a parrot means sharing every nook and cranny. That’s how parrots work.

Parrots have expectations, too. Parrot expectations of a human world seem unreasonable. All parrot expectations are reasonable, for a parrot. Your bird didn’t ask to live in a human house with human things waiting on humans to take care of them.

Reasonable expectations of your parrot.

  • Chewing on your favorite chair.
  • Chewing on your not favorite chair.
  • Chewing.
  • Hanging from window treatments.
  • Screaming. Whenever the mood strikes, to call their family in Costa Rica.
  • Wandering the floor to find where you went off to and chewing on random things while searching for you.
  • Waking early.
  • Throwing food out of bowls.
  • Pooping on you.
  • Pooping on your things.
  • Pooping every twenty minutes, because that’s how parrots work.
  • Destroying all the buttons. All. The. Buttons.
  • Answering your phone while you are on the phone.
  • Interrupting your ZOOM, Slack, Messenger, video meeting until someone on the screen acknowledges them.
  • Demanding to taste your food. All. Your. Food.
  • Parrots can smell. They smell your spaghetti.
  • Parrots can taste. They remember your spaghetti tastes better than this boring bean you just handed them.
  • Parrots can remember. They remember how you avoided sharing that spaghetti last time, and already have plans in the making to counter your spaghetti hoarding efforts next time they hear you bang the right pans. And smell spaghetti.
  • Parrots talk contextually. Parrots mimic your voice, but they are not mimicking words. They are using them with sound effects to make it clear they will eat that spaghetti with you next time. Parrots learn language like children. They connect the dots of action, objects, and sound.
  • Parrots expect you to act like a family, maintain full communication, be honest, prioritize the family flock, and share everything.
  • Parrots can fly. A flying being expects to be large and in charge. Don’t step up if you can’t keep up.

Parrot expectations are meant for their world, not ours. That’s the nugget at the center of the truth of expectations for both parrot and human. We’ve invited a flying being to live in a non-flying lifestyle. It is the parrot’s expectations that get pushed aside when human life presses in. Bad bird, inappropriate behavior, unwanted behavior, misbehaving, mean bird, unfriendly bird, all these phrases drive me up a tree. I’m up there because the human brought unreasonable expectations to a parrot’s natural reasonable expectations. By default, we find the parrot guilty simply for not thinking and acting like a human. The human, having passed judgment, sees a faulty bird that needs fixing.

Meanwhile, back inside the bird’s brain, he’s already forgotten about the issue and moved onto another matter, or a chair, to chew on. That’s the other half of parrot expectation. They do not linger in thought. If things get difficult or blocked, they just change the subject and goal. Just like a 4-year-old child. You, Judge Human, are now alone in your moment of irritation.  

The “screaming parrot” issue is a prime example of unreasonable expectations by humans. After a Vet visit and confirmed health, a screaming parrot is acting most appropriately inside their reasonable expectations. They are seeking their prime directive. Flock activity. Have a game of Marco Polo. Try to be more parrot.

Find yourself in the middle of this series? Sometimes you have to go backwards, to move forwards. Part 1 - How to Create a Great Parrot Lifestyle - And Create a Great Lifestyle

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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